Chelsea Manalo is on historic campaign at this year’s Miss Universe

Jerry Donato - The Philippine Star
Chelsea Manalo is on historic campaign at this year�s Miss Universe
Chelsea Manalo, the beauty from Bulacan, is the first Pinay of Afro-American descent to represent the Philippines at the annual Miss Universe. She will compete with other global beauties later this year in Mexico with the mission to continue the country’s semifinals and Top 10 placement, regained by Michelle Dee at Miss U in El Salvador.
Photo from Miss Universe Philippines’ Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — The win of Chelsea Manalo as this year’s Miss Universe Philippines was dubbed a surprise and historic by pageant enthusiasts and experts.

The beauty from Bulacan held her own in the presence of pageant veterans and frontrunners and has become the first Pinay of Afro-American descent to represent the country at the annual Miss Universe in Mexico.

Chelsea, who lived up to her surname, meaning “to win,” during the Miss U Phl final’s night, is also described by some as a breath of fresh air as compared to a bevy of mestiza and morena Pinay bets that have graced the Miss U stage.

It’s time for the country to send a representative of African-American descent, a welcome addition to the half-breed Filipinas with American, Australian, Arab, German, Indian, Italian and Scottish racial and ethnic roots. After all, the ancestors of this land are believed to be Austronesians and hill people.

In this day and age, diversity should be even more celebrated and embraced.

Although she was on the radar and expected to land in the Top 10, she worked her way slowly but surely and fervently with the aspiration to become a Filipina queen.

She showed her amiable personality in the introduction, the casual interview and the Top 5 question-and-answer segment. Chelsea appeared calm and collected and she paced herself to share her thoughts. She was there to express herself and not to impress.

Chelsea also had a captivating smile. She seemed to be there to challenge herself, breezing through the swimsuit and evening gown competitions.

Chelsea did reach the final round and was the last one standing.

She earned the rights to represent the country at the 2024 Miss Universe fair and square.

Chelsea has what the others call the 3B’s: beauty, body, and brains. She also possesses the 2P’s: pulchritude and personality.

Chelsea reminds one of Chelsi Smith, Miss Universe 1995 from USA; Kenya Moore, Miss Universe 1993 Top 6 finalist from USA; Wendy Fitzwilliam, Miss Universe 1998 from Trinidad and Tobago; and Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011 from Angola.

Chelsea and her team may consider the winning ways (from having a well-toned physique, enticing presence and appeal, a confident-oozing pasarela [catwalk or runway walk], to being an enthusiastic spokesperson) of the former Miss Universe winners and complement them with her winnable qualities, plus what the Miss Universe Organization is looking for in its queen.

Like what I’ve mentioned in my previous article on Miss Philippines’ prospects at this year’s Miss Universe, the successor of Michelle Marquez Dee has two missions to carry out, aside from bringing the country’s fifth crown: to keep and maintain the country’s semi-finals and Top 10 placement and break its non-placement in a Miss Universe edition held in Mexico. Chelsea has these challenges to handle and hurdle.

Michelle, Miss Universe Philippines 2023, succeeded in regaining the country’s Top 20 placement at Miss Universe and reaching the Top 10 round. She is also considered the most awarded Pinay Miss U delegate receiving the Voice for Change gold, Spirit of Carnival, Fan Vote and Best National Costume awards.

Although the Philippines has four Miss Universe titles and 23 semi-finalists, finalists and runners-up, its representatives in the 1978, 1989, 1993 and 2007 editions, all mounted in Mexico, fell short in the first round.

However, in three of the four Miss U in Mexico editions, women of color or of African descent such as Miss Jamaica (1989), Miss USA (1993 and 2007), Miss Tanzania (2007) and Miss Angola (2007) entered the Top 10 and Top 15.

Asians like Miss India (in 1993 and 2007), Japan, Korea and Thailand (2007) secured spots in the semifinals. Korea (represented by Honey Lee) was named third runner-up, while Japan (Riyo Mori) eventually won the Miss U title and its second crown.

With these scenarios, Chelsea is on a historic campaign for the Philippines at Miss Universe.

Given her beauty and personality, she will make her kababayan here and abroad proud.

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